Zuj tackles media gender imbalances

HARARE - Southen African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (Sadc PF) will this Friday join other stakeholders in Harare at a regional summit on media and gender being hosted by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (Zuj).

The Sadc PF is an autonomous body of Sadc, made up of 13 parliaments that represent thousands of parliamentarians in the region.

The body is mandated with promoting human rights, gender equality, good governance and democracy, as well as advising Sadc on pertinent issues affecting the region.

Media stakeholders from across the region will converge in Harare to take stock of gender developments in Sadc.

Zuj secretary-general Foster Dongozi said most media houses in the region were lagging behind in addressing social imbalances affecting women and children.

“The summit will among other issues take stock of the gender dynamics of the media industry in southern Africa, deliberate on how the media is representing women and children as well as discuss gender policies in media organisations,” said Dongozi.

Dongozi said one of the conference’s major outcomes will be the adoption of a Draft Protocol on Media and Gender which would be used to lobby regional presidents to strengthen already existing statutes on gender and media.

“Southern African states are faced with similar challenges with regards to unequal and unfair gender representation in media organisations and in terms of the portrayal of women and children in the media and of course issues to do with sexual harassment and gender discrimination,” he said.

“Hence the need to build synergies within the region in order to come up with legislative instruments that ensure Sadc countries implement gender sensitive policies, specifically to do with media issues,” said Dongozi.

Delegates will, during the meeting, push for the approval of the Sadc Regional Gender Council, meant to campaign for the adoption of the protocol and address other related issues.

“Apart from leading the advocacy strategy, the Council, operating under the auspices of Zuj will also lead various programmes that seek to enhance the status of women journalists and address issues that affect young journalists,” said Dongozi.

In addition, the forum seeks to bring regional experiences to bear at the national level, to promote best practices in the role of parliaments in regional cooperation and integration as outlined in the Sadc Treaty and the Forum Constitution.

Its main aim is to provide a platform for parliaments and parliamentarians to promote and improve regional integration in the Sadc region, through parliamentary involvement.
 
Zimbabwe’s Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo is the outgoing chairperson of the Sadc PF, while the forum’s secretary- general, Dr Esau Chiviya will be the official delegate to the summit.
 
Sadc PF is headquartered in Windhoek, Namibia.

Dongozi said the Sadc PF will provide the necessary legislative guidance and technical support on how Sadc operates, crafts protocols and the possible hurdles the union and other stakeholders will face when advocating for the draft protocol.

“The participation of the Sadc PF is a giant step towards strengthening legislation around media and gender issues and we welcome them with open arms and we hope their participation will enrich discussions and indeed, the summit itself,” said Dongozi.

“We hope the Parliamentary Forum, as a body that makes recommendations to Sadc member states will also lead the process of ensuring the implementation of gender sensitive media policies.”
 
The Sadc PF secretary-general Esau Chiviya is expected to arrive in Harare from Windhoek on the 14th and will participate in the summit which ends on the 16th of December.

The three-day summit is being hosted by Zuj in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Outgoing Sadc Parliamentary Forum chairperson Lovemore Moyo. - Wendy Muperi

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